After a long layover in Jeddah, I was happy to board our late-night flight to Manchester. After the atrocious last flight I was not expecting great service, but figured at least I would be able to sleep.
Five hours in the lounge was enough, so we explored the terminal a bit prior to boarding. There’s not much to see and it was very crowded. Our flight departed from gate 7, which seemed to be a special gate for UK-bound flights. Unlike flights to the USA, however, there was no an additional security screening.
Jeddah has no jet bridges, so we boarded via bus. This required proceeding from the chaotic gate area to an even more chaotic waiting area downstairs. It was a complete free-for-all and despite dutifully lining up at the gate early and proceeding immediately down to board the bus, Ben and I missed the first bus. Uniformed security agents (appeared to be Saudi military) checked every passport before boarding the bus for evidence of a departure stamp.
We finally made it to the aircraft and boarded through Door 1.
Jeddah (JED) – Manchester (MAN)
Tuesday, August 3
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
Seat: 4L (Business Class)
Let’s talk about the seat: it was great.
Saudia 787 Business Class Seat
Business class stretches from Door 1 to Door 2 and features 24 seats (six rows of 1-2-1). The B/E Aerospace Super Diamond reverse herringbone seat affords the most personal space and privacy of any business class seat except (arguably) the Apex Suite.
The color scheme was understated and refined. Thankfully, individual air nozzles were available.
After flying from Casablanca to Doha to Colombo to Jeddah, I was so exhausted I almost fell asleep prior to takeoff. Unfortunately, the bedding was not ideal: the pillow was adequate, but the blanket was economy class style. It ended up not mattering. It did not take me long to fall asleep.
Saudia 787 Business Class Service
Would service be better, worse, or the same on this flight compared to the earlier flight? As it turns out, better.
The purser, another Mohammed, was fairly friendly and did not delegate all the work to his female colleagues. In fact, he even offered me a cold towel prior to takeoff and later served my meal.
But service was slow, unacceptably slow. On a 6hr redeye a crew should be focused on promptly serving meals so passengers can maximize sleep. It took 75 minutes before our snack was served.
Lights were turned up for breakfast two hours before landing but it took another 30 minutes before breakfast was actually served and 45 minutes after breakfast for cofeee. It just made no sense.
The crew was friendly, though. The captain also seemed friendly, stating after takeoff–
The plane might shake a little bit. Don’t worry about it. There is nothing to worry about it. We will be in Manchester by 7:20 inshallah. Thank you for giving Saudia this opportunity to serve you. Sit back and enjoy the flight.
Saudia 787 Business Class Meal Service
The crew served juice and a bottle of water 40 minutes after takeoff.
Here’s the menu, which included a snack after takeoff and breakfast before landing. Though theoretically on-demand, FAs worked their way from front to back taking meal orders after takeoff.
I ordered the chicken sandwich, which looked good, tasted okay, but had very little chicken inside.
For dessert I ordered “hot chocolate and cookies” which was the highlight of the flight. The fresh-baked cookies were warm and delicious and though the hot chocolate never appeared, I enjoyed dipping my cookies in a glass of milk.
Ben ordered the same thing, but was only served cookies from a box–
Breakfast was served on a tray, starting with a cheese dish and fresh fruit and followed by frittata and hot bread.
As mentioned above, it took 45 additional minutes for coffee to be served (I ordered cappuccino)–
Coffee was served in a paper cup even though we were 45 minutes from landing.
Prior to landing, FAs offered mints:
Saudia 787 Business Class Amenity Kit
The same Ferragamo amenity kit as the Colombo to Jeddah flight was offered. I did not open it this time.
Saudia 787 Safety Video + IFE
A safety video was screened after pushback featuring mostly Saudi-looking models (perhaps it was CGI)–
The IFE collection was quite poor but I had fun playing Hidden Object Hunt while waiting for the meal. Noise-cancelling headphones of dubious quality were distributed.
Wi-Fi was available, but I was too tired to even think about working.
Saudia 787 Lavatory
I stepped into the lavatory shortly after boarding and it already looked like someone had performed an ablution or confused the toilet with the floor. Even the mirror was wet…
Saudia 787 Prayer
Prior to takeoff, as on every Saudia flight, a pre-recorded Islamic prayer is offered over the PA system. If you’re curious, here is the prayer–
With the delay in the initial meal service and early start to the breakfast service, there was not much time to sleep. Even so, the only reason we stayed up was to properly review the product: if you take this flight you’ll probably just want to sleep. The new business class seat makes this easy.
I was thankful service was better on this flight and think Saudia has the elements necessary for a highly competitive product: it just must be executed better.
Read Ben’s review here.